HomeSearch NewsSelf-employed non-UE nationals: Italy’s immigration rules

10 December 2021

Self-employed non-UE nationals: Italy’s immigration rules

The answers to the most frequently asked questions from the Handbook on integration

In Italy, the entry of foreign citizens for self-employment reasons is subject generally to the quota established annually by the Flows Decree and to the categories of self-employment that the Flows Decree specifically identifies.

What are the requirements to apply for a self-employment visa?

The self-employment visa allows foreigners to enter Italy for a short or long-term stay, to carry out a non-subordinate work activity. In order to obtain it, the foreigner must possess the professional and moral requirements established by the law also for Italian citizens, to carry out the same activity.

It is possible to enter Italy within the quota established by the Flow Decree or outside the limits of the quota, even if this second option is very limited in practice. To be able to carry out a non-intermittent self-employment activity, you must obtain a self-employment visa. In addition, you must prove that you have adequate financial means at your disposition and that the law does not reserve the activity that you carry out exclusively for Italian or European Union citizens.

The procedure is diversified according to whether the activity that you intend to carry out in Italy entails the registration in Rolls or Registries or not.

What are the categories of self-employed workers usually foreseen by the Flows Decree to entry Italy in the framework of the quota system?

The entry of self-employed non-UE nationals within the quota is allowed only and exclusively in favour of the categories provided for by the current Flow Decree. The last decree adopted (DPCM 2021) foresees the following five categories for which the visa can be issued, if the required documentation is submitted and the necessary requirements are met:

a) entrepreneurs who intend to implement an investment plan of interest to the Italian economy, which envisages the use of own resources of no less than 500,000 euro, as well as the creation of at least three new vacancies;
b) freelancers who intend to exercise regulated or supervised professions, or unregulated professions represented at national level by associations registered in official lists kept by the Public Administration;
c) holders of corporate administration and control positions expressly provided for by the Inter-ministerial Decree n. 850 of May 11, 2011;
d) artist of clear fame or of high and well-known professional qualification, hired by public or private entities, fulfilling the requirements expressly provided for by the Inter-ministerial Decree n. 850 of May 11, 2011;
e) foreign citizens who intend to set up an enterprise "innovative start-up" pursuant to law 17 December 2012, n. 221, in the presence of the requirements provided for by the same law and who have a self- employment relationship with the enterprise.

What is the procedure to follow to obtain a self-employment visa within the quota?

A foreign citizen who intends to carry out a self-employed activity in Italy has to wait for the official publication of the Flows Decree and afterwards s/he can submit the request for the issuance of an authorisation (so-called nulla osta) to the Police Headquarters.
The request must be completed online on the website of the Ministry of the Interior, according to the time limits and the modalities prescribed by the annual Flows Decree.
At the time of the nulla osta request, the non-EU worker must possess the license or authorization documentation for the activity s/he intends to carry out or the registration to the chamber of commerce, which must be presented to the Police Headquarters.
The documentation dated no earlier than three months, together with the public security clearance issued by the Police Headquarters, must be submitted to the Italian diplomatic or consular Representation, in the country of origin or permanent residence of the foreign citizen, to obtain the entry visa for self-employment.
Furthermore, in order to apply for the visa , it is necessary to prove to the Italian diplomatic or consular Representation to have:
- a suitable accommodation in Italy, that may be attested by means of an ownership or rental contract, or a declaration made by an Italian or foreign citizen legally residing in Italy certifying that s/he has made suitable accommodation available to the applicant;
- an annual income from legitimate sources higher than the minimum required by law for the exemption from healthcare spending (about € 8,400 to date), that can not be attested by means of a bank guarantee or an insurance policy.

When is the entry visa for self-employment granted and how?

Once the admissibility of the application and the existence of the general and particular requirements foreseen by the Consolidated Act on Immigration have been assessed, the entry visa for work is issued by affixing it to the worker's passport in the form of an adhesive label (so-called sticker) based on standard models.
The visa can be issued or refused within 120 days of submitting the application.
Simultaneously with the issuance of the entry visa, the Italian diplomatic or consular Representation of the country of origin or of permanent residence of the foreigner, delivers to the holder of the visa a written communication in a language that s/he understands or, if impossible, in English, French, Spanish or Arabic, according to the preferences expressed by the interested applicant, that illustrates the rights and duties of the foreigner relating to entry and stay in Italy as well as the obligation to present himself or herself to the competent authorities after his/her entry into Italy, within the time limits established by law.

Is it possible to use the residence permit for self-employment to carry out a subordinate employment activity?

Yes, even without conversion or rectification, for the entire period of validity of the permit for self-employment, the worker can also carry out a subordinate employment activity and therefore can regularly be hired by an employer, without requesting the assignment of an entry quota available. At the time of renewal, it is possible to request a new residence permit corresponding to the activity actually carried out.

What are the Italian law provisions to set up a self-employed activity?

In order to start any type of self-employed activity, some obligations are provided for by the law. In particular:
- Choosing the Activity Code: according to the type of business to be carried out, a code shall be selected among those provided for by the regulations in force. If such business is not described in any code, a general code as close as possible to the specific activity shall be used. The choice of the code will be relevant for the tax and social security management;
- Choosing the tax regime: according to the annual turnover, different tax regimes may be selected, from which different ways of keeping the accounts may derive. Among them there is the Tax Regime for Minimum Tax Payers that strongly simplifies the management of accounts for those who earn less than 30 thousand Euros per year. Additional information is provided in the website of the Italian Tax Revenue Agency;
- Filling-out the Statement of Business Start-up: in order to fill it in, it is possible to directly address the clerks of the Tax Revenue Agency (Self-Employed work) or of the Chamber of Commerce (Company). If any advice is needed, it is possible to address one of the specialised Tax Assistance Centres or a chartered accountant. This choice mainly depends on the budget available;
- Acquiring the VAT number: in case the activity code falls within the Company Businesses, it is necessary to address the Chamber of Commerce. If it represents a self-employed work it is necessary to address the Tax Revenue Agency. The acquisition and the closing of a VAT code are free of charge;
- Registration to the INPS or other Social Security Institution: according to the activity performed, a specific social security registration shall be made;
- Registration to INAIL: registration against the accidents at the workplace and professional diseases to be made by the competent INAIL office;
- Certified notification of beginning of the activity (SCIA): it shall be performed to the Municipality (SUAP – one-stop shop for productive activities) that will assess the compliance with regulations concerning town planning, building, environmental, public security, fire prevention, sanitation and safety in the workplace, energy efficiency, and with the provisions contained in the code of cultural heritage and landscape.
As from the 1st April 2010 companies, including individual ones, shall fulfil all the administrative provisions on the beginning, variation and termination of business through an electronic Notification (Comunicazione Unica - ComUnica). In this way, a single receiver shall send the various pieces of information to the different Authorities involved.
Information and consultancy services on starting up a self-employed activity are available at the Employment Centers.
For more information, it is possible to contact the Employment Centers, which have specific support services for companies, or UnionCamere.